Relations between China and the UAE are the best they have ever been, according to a leading Chinese diplomat.
Ni Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to the UAE, made his comments, to the state news agency WAM, just days ahead of an official visit to China by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
"This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Our relationship is currently at its best period in history," said Mr Jian.
"The exchange of visits between our top leaderships within a year is testimony to the high standards and special significance of the China-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, thus marking a milestone in the development of our bilateral relationship.”
He said the upcoming visit would consolidate and deepen the political and strategic trust between the two nations.
“It will also elevate our political, military, commercial, cultural, people-to-people and technological cooperation across the board," said the ambassador.
He said that out of all the Middle East countries, the UAE has the deepest, broadest and most fruitful relationship with China.
An example of this was the Belt and Road initiative, which Mr Jian said would chime with Sheikh Mohamed’s vision to "restore the Silk Road".
"Jointly building the Belt and Road is in line with the UAE’s interests and brings opportunities and momentum to our respective development,” he said.
“As an important regional transport hub and financial and trade centre, the UAE has a pivotal role to play to extend China’s cooperation with the Gulf and Middle East states and facilitate interconnectivity.”
He also highlighted the thriving cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two nations.
“Over 1.1 million Chinese tourists had visited the UAE in 2018, thanks to the mutual visa-exemption arrangement between both nations,” he said.
"There are over 150 commercial flights every week connecting different cities in our countries.”
He said that relations between the two countries would only grow stronger in the future.
"Our plan to open a Chinese Cultural Centre in the UAE is in progress," he said.
Mr Jian added that the UAE hosts the largest Chinese community in the Middle East.
“Of over 200,000-strong Chinese community in the UAE, most of them live in Dubai and Sharjah,” he said.
“Around 50 community organisations cater to the community members from all walks of life.
"They have forged a profound friendship with locals, and made great contributions to the UAE’s economic development with their perseverance and pioneering spirit."